Know Your Theme: Sustainable Business

Interested in a Theme in Sustainability? Learn more from Assistant Professor Srini Venugopal below!

Srini Venugopal, started at UVM in 2016 and has taught:

    • BSAD 290E Sustainable Marketing
    • BSAD 150 Marketing Management
    • Driving Innovation from the Base-of-the-Pyramid (MBA Course)

Can you give a brief overview of what it means to have a Sustainability theme?

The Sustainable Business theme examines how the potent force of business can be harnessed to address some of society’s grand challenges such as environmental degradation and global poverty. Conventionally, businesses are seen to be a part of the problem, owing to their role in causing environmental degradation and sustaining economic inequality. The sustainable business theme explores how businesses can become a part of the solution and play an integral role in rejuvenating the environment and invigorating local communities.

What are some important things for students interested in Sustainability to know?

Students will be trained to adopt a systems-thinking approach in addressing global sustainability challenges. Students will also learn how to build and manage partnerships with diverse stakeholders in creating shared value. Students will also be exposed to best practices that firms employ in creating shared value across diverse business contexts.

What are some big things happening in Sustainability right now?

Investors managing billions of dollars are choosing to support firms that create not just economic value but also social and environmental value [link <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/business/dealbook/blackrock-laurence-fink-letter.html>].  Consequently, there is now growing interest in measuring social and environmental value creation, which are more complicated to measure than economic value creation. Measuring social and environmental performance of firms is a nascent field that will see vigorous activity over the next decade.

What types of careers could students with a Sustainability theme pursue?

Students with skills in sustainable business have a diverse set of career options to choose from. Most multinational corporations [eg. Pepsi, Nike, Walmart] have sustainability teams that strive to continuously steer the firm towards a more sustainable trajectory, while documenting the social and environmental impacts of their activities. There are also opportunities in the sustainability consulting world, in large and small consulting firms alike. Students can also choose to work for social enterprises, which are founded explicitly to address important social or environmental issues [Example <https://www.kiva.org/>].

By Amanda Simpfenderfer
Amanda Simpfenderfer Amanda Simpfenderfer